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OHS Alum Making Mark On ABC 9 In Arizona
Chau Bella
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From Oakdale to Fresno to Arizona, Oakdale High School alum Brooke Chau has landed an on air position with KGUN ABC 9 News in Tucson.

It has not even been a decade since Oakdale High alum Brooke Chau passed through The Corral to receive her diploma or even five years since her byline was last seen on these very pages as an Oakdale Leader intern.

Yet as the saying goes, grass isn’t growing under the feet of Chau, as the 2018 OHS grad and 2022 Fresno State grad recently began her career as a morning reporter for “Good Morning Tucson” in Tucson, Arizona.

The former Mustang and Oakdale native shared she gives much credit to her upbringing in the 95361, as well as her time at Fresno State as instrumental in her newly found success.

“I’m an Oakdale girl through and through,” Chau shared from her Tucson home. “I knew I was going to leave. That’s just how my mom raised me and my sister. We needed to go off and go to college. So, I knew that day was coming, but I can’t believe it’s been four years.”

What she did not know however, in May of 2018, was that her career path would lead in this direction. Admittedly an extrovert more interested in the social aspect of high school life over the academic, Chau didn’t struggle with the choices of where to go to school. Making Fresno State her campus of choice came pretty easy. Using her own education as inspiration, Chau chose to pursue a career in teaching.

“I was blessed to have the best of the best here,” she said regarding her Oakdale teachers.

By November of her freshman year, she began reexamining that goal.

It was a simple comment from a college professor that spun Chau onto a new path which became life changing, stating she would make a good journalist since she was ‘nosey’ and asked so many questions.

“At the time, COVID was on the rise and the talks of the media were always a topic,” she said, sharing that simple joke prompted her to explore the option and she began taking news classes.

“I decided, I want to learn more about this and that’s how it started,” she said. “I remember thinking you know what, I’m going to go make a name for myself at Fresno.”

Proving to both herself as well as the powers that be, the last two years of her education at FSU were paid for fully through journalism scholarships. Upon graduation in May of this year she earned two Bachelor’s degrees; one in Communication and the other in Journalism.

COVID did continue to play a role in Chau’s education story, just as it did many others, however not in the way one might expect.

Moving home for a few months in 2020 when the world shut down, she found herself working at Mountain Mikes Pizza to make some money. Recognizing this wasn’t what she would do with her life, she did feel it was teaching her good work ethic as well as making money.

“I felt like good stories were going to come out of this,” she said of the pandemic and her inclination to reach out to The Oakdale Leader in pursuit of an internship.

“I did not have one interview under my belt. I basically faked it,” she said of her initial meeting with Editor Marg Jackson. She, in fact, offered to work for free if Jackson just taught her and so a partnership was formed.

“During that time, I was trying to apply to Fresno State’s newspaper and I got denied three times,” she stated. “They said you don’t have newspaper experience; we can’t hire you.”

That (not so) simple rejection, has remained a critical piece of Chau’s story.

“From Oakdale Leader to ABC News, Marg was the first boss that said, ‘Yeah, you can do it. I’ll teach you’,” the journalist shared. “She would edit my stories. I’ve told her, I’m now on TV and work for ABC News and it’s because of you.”

While The Leader may have opened the door for a young community member with potential, it is Chau’s can-do attitude which is both unmistakable, as well as impressive. Characteristics she attributes to her upbringing and her mother.

“She raised my sister and I single, by herself. She always taught us that you don’t need a man to take care of you. You’re going to take care of yourself. Education is powerful,” Chau said of her mom. “She gave us so many affirmations when we were younger that I really believed, I was excellent. I walked around like I was the best, because she told me I was the best.”

“She taught us that you can achieve anything that you want. It really just stems from my mom,” she continued. “She told us we were the best every day and we really believed that.”

The combination of those affirmations, her empowering mother and a simple internship at a local paper may have been just exactly what the teacher turned reporter needed to launch her on air career.

The OHS grad shared she believes it’s important for the community to recognize it’s not a case of small town, small resources.

“You just have to be willing to work,” she said. “The business owners and community will make it work for you.”

So how does a 22-year-old, from a small town in the Central Valley, go from college to on air news talent? Some might say luck and Chau wouldn’t say they were completely wrong, but she might throw in a bit of goal setting and hard work to put the cherry on top.

January of this year she shared she set a personal goal for herself that sitting in her seat on graduation day, she would know where she was going to be living, what her salary would be, and what her job would be.

Following her summer at The Leader, Chau was hired on by the Fresno State newspaper, as well as Fresno State’s newscast, which led to an internship with NBC Fresno 30 at the start of this year.

Knowing the business and the various rankings for different news stations, the then future graduate acknowledged a job post-graduation with NBC Fresno was highly unlikely. She applied anyway. That rejection, however, led to a connection with her current boss who happens to have worked at the Fresno station prior to her time in Tucson.

“If I’m ever told no, I don’t take it as a no. I use that to go somewhere else and find something else to do,” Chau shared, explaining she looks at the word no, not as rejection but redirection.

As if written like a fairy tale, by March of this year, Chau was offered an on air reporter position with ABC 9 Tucson. It’s a number 65 newscast in a ranking system of approximately 200.

“It’s a crazy process. I definitely got lucky, but I worked hard,” she said.

“People told me to my face every day, you are not going to make a top 100 market,” she added prior to being offered her current position.

Their reasoning being all the obvious to those in the business: inexperience, her age, gender, etcetera.

“And I would say just watch me and I’m now on a 65,” she stated proudly. “It can really only go up from here. I got hired at ABC 9 in Tucson in March of my senior year.”

She is currently working under a two-year contract with hopes to return to California, as a two- to five-year goal. Her 10- to 20-year goal is New York City, Good Morning America.

“I’m in it for the long run,” she said, adding that on her second day at ABC 9 she was offered the morning position.

“They said we think you have the personality and we think you could wake up this town,” Chau shared.

And while she may be waking up Tucson each day, the small community of Oakdale is still where her heart lies. Recognizing that her trip back to the 95361 will no longer be in the capacity of living here herself, it remains her home.

“I’ve never received so much support from my hometown as I have the past year,” she said, choking back emotion. “When I announced I was going to ABC News, I was like what? My hometown cares about this?”

Admitting to being homesick as she chases her dreams, she added the comments and support from the Oakdale community makes it worth it.

“That’s what gets me through it really,” she said of the support from friends as well as strangers. “The support from Oakdale, of all places, but it really means so much.”

As Chau reflects on her past four years since graduation from OHS, she recalls her time juggling Mountain Mike’s and working for The Oakdale Leader and again becomes choked up.

“I used to tell myself, one day you’re going to be on TV and you’re going to be able to tell your hometown this story one day and that day’s today.”

Through it all what Chau hopes for most is that her success and drive can help inspire other young girls in her hometown.

“You just have to find what your passionate about. Not what’s going to make you money. Not what’s going to make your parents happy,” she said, “but what you’re truly passionate about. I want young girls in Oakdale to be like, yeah that girl grew up here and she’s on national TV. If she can do it, I can do it.”

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Poised and professional, Brooke Chau is embracing her new role as on air talent in Tucson, earning a job at ABC 9 following graduation from Fresno State.